Blood vessel cells treated to reveal the amount of calcium inside
Although it might be worthy of an appearance on Blue Planet, this isn’t an aerial photo of a brightly-coloured coral reef. Instead, it’s a collection of blood vessel cells that have been treated to reveal the amount of calcium inside. If they were inside a person rather than in a plastic laboratory dish, then the high calcium levels in these cells would be contributing to high blood pressure (hypertension), which significantly increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, vascular dementia, kidney disease and more. Similar to the way that calcium in our bones makes them stiff and strong, excess calcium inside blood vessel cells makes them tough and inflexible, causing vessels to stiffen and blood pressure to rise. Nearly a third of adults in the UK have hypertension but many don’t receive proper treatment, so studying this 'Great Calcium Reef' could provide new clues for future therapies.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.